Visual detection of nucleic acids based on Mie scattering and the magnetophoretic effect

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

3 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7876-7885
Journal / PublicationAnalyst
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2015


Visual detection of nucleic acid biomarkers is a simple and convenient approach to point-of-care applications. However, issues of sensitivity and the handling of complex bio-fluids have posed challenges. Here we report on a visual method detecting nucleic acids using Mie scattering of polystyrene microparticles and the magnetophoretic effect. Magnetic microparticles (MMPs) and polystyrene microparticles (PMPs) were surface-functionalised with oligonucleotide probes, which can hybridise with target oligonucleotides in juxtaposition and lead to the formation of MMPs-targets-PMPs sandwich structures. Using an externally applied magnetic field, the magnetophoretic effect attracts the sandwich structure to the sidewall, which reduces the suspended PMPs and leads to a change in the light transmission via the Mie scattering. Based on the high extinction coefficient of the Mie scattering (∼3 orders of magnitude greater than that of the commonly used gold nanoparticles), our results showed the limit of detection to be 4 pM using a UV-Vis spectrometer or 10 pM by direct visual inspection. Meanwhile, we also demonstrated that this method is compatible with multiplex assays and detection in complex bio-fluids, such as whole blood or a pool of nucleic acids, without purification in advance. With a simplified operation procedure, low instrumentation requirement, high sensitivity and compatibility with complex bio-fluids, this method provides an ideal solution for visual detection of nucleic acids in resource-limited settings.

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